Monday, April 30, 2012

Walt Disney World 1992

The most useful degree I own...

"The Durant"
by Ken Neal

Ad for a 1925 Durant
     The Durant labored up a hill, loaded with a family of seven and all it owned. The Radfords were moving - again. 
     Andrew Radford drove, his head cocked, his mouth a tight line, his jaw muscles working. He gripped the wheel at eleven o'clock and one o'clock, constantly overcorrecting so that the Durant always wandered a bit. Rad was not comfortable with automobiles.
      A team of mules was a different matter.
     "Fred, you get ready to skin a while; I'm tired."
      The boy grinned. He loved cars.  Last year, he'd pulled the oil pan off the Durant. Rad had caught him on his back under the car with the engine idling.
    "What the hell are you doing?"
     "Seein' how she works."
     Rad had thrown a shoe over that one, cussed the boy thoroughly for such a hare-brained stunt. After the tantrum, Fred had sheepishly put the oil pan back. But he'd seen how the engine "worked," taking a mental picture of the whirling connecting rods. The curiosity was satisfied; he saw how the piston explosions were transformed into turning power.
     At 13, he was the family chauffeur and mechanic. But now his father was driving and talking.
     Rad squinted at the November sky. "Rain. My god, I wish to hell it would rain." It had been raining all day and getting colder.
    "Won't be long to Chickasha," Rad said.  "We ought to get to Red Hill 'bout noon day after tomorrow." He punctuated the pronouncement with an emphatic nod to Fred.  When he did, the Durant lurched in the direction he nodded.
     "Whoa, you son-of-a-bitch." Too late.  The Durant refused to obey the voice command and slithered parallel to a deep borrow ditch.  Rad locked the brakes but the slide continued, now with no steering control.  He got off the brake in time to try to regain the road.  But the manuever was too complicated for him; he forgot to downshift and the engine bucked and died in high.  Distracted and confused, he let the car roll backward.  The right rear of the car sunk into the ditch.  The Durant and all the Radfords were assbackwards and listing to starboard in the borrow ditch.
     Pots rattled; kids from three to 13 yelled.
    "God-dam," shouted Rad.
     "My Lord," said his wife, Sarah Ann, her catchall comment for everything from a bad haircut to death.
     Rad jumped out of the Durant. Everybody clambered up the slope to the road and looked down at the Durant. It was canted at a crazy angle in the ditch, the left front wheel almost off the ground.    
Neal R. Johnston
December 16, 1994

Neal R. Johnston (1994)
As told to Abby Neal Johnston and Ken Neal at Papa Ken's House

My sister, Abby, and my papa, Ken, won't let me do all the things that I want to. They continually interfere with my activities. They won't let me put ball point pens in the pencil sharpener, which is very frustrating.

Nor will they let me shove papers in the wrong end of the printer. And, they keep telling me what to do in two languages. It's enough to make a grown man cry, not to mention a little guy like me.

For the past hour, they have been trying to con me into taking my bottle. But I refuse. I know they are trying to lull me to sleep.

Earlier, we played with the tinker toys. I squeezed big bird's hand and he talked to me. I played with the bulldozer, the wagon, ate a banana, drank some orange juice and smeared an ice cream bar all over me. Grandpa changed me.

Abby and grandpa are pretty nice but I can't wait until I can do things myself. When I can, I believe I will run their little fingers through the pencil sharpener!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ken Neal - A Typical Day
by Diane Young
"Editorial Conditions and Constraints" - Communications 4813
University of Tulsa
February 16, 1996

In the twenty-some years that Ken Neal has worked for the editorial pages of the Tulsa World, he has written close to 10,000 opinion editorials.  He’s covered education levees, property taxes, local and national elections,  civil rights and anything else needing an opinion.  Now, as editor of the editorial pages, he helps set the editorial policy and tone for the rest of the editorial writers. 

A typical day for Neal starts early in the morning.  He sorts through the mail giving each writer letters that apply to their interests, then the editorial board meets.  Monday and Tuesday meetings outline what the writers will cover at the end of the week, and the board discusses what will go into that day’s paper.  Editorial meetings also have frequent guest speakers.  Members of special interest groups, election candidates, the mayor and judges all stop by to keep the staff informed.  The mayor typically gives progress reports from City Hall.   The political candidates and interest groups aim for the endorsement and support of the newspaper.  Last year Howard Schnellenberger paid Ken Neal a visit to talk about the future of OU football, and more recently Steve Largent stopped in to discuss his future political goals (he’s not getting the endorsement).

After the morning meetings are finished the writing begins.  Wednesday is a busy day because all the writers have to have their columns for Wednesday ready and the pages for the Sunday edition of the paper.  Friday, however, is the most hectic.  By mid afternoon the editorial staff must turn in columns and editorials for Friday, Saturday and Monday.  All the locally generated columns are supplemented by nationally syndicated pieces that paper gets from wire services.  To have the paper ready by deadline, proofs of the pages need to be ready by 3:00 p.m., and then they go back to Neal for the final review.  If he doesn’t agree with any of the editorials, he can throw them out. 
I asked Mr. Neal how being an editor compared to the constraints of being a reporter, which he also was.  Reporters are bounded by the factual circumstances of an event.  The job of a reporter is to research a topic if necessary, and  be fair and accurate when reporting the details of the research or story.  An editorial writer though, tries to interpret a set of facts for the public, and is able to defend the beliefs he or she has written about.  So, what kind of facts do editorial writers interpret?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ken Neal Letter to Madalene Danklef
September 26, 1998 

Dear Madalene:

It’s early on a Saturday morning on my 63rd birthday. I got a terrific birthday card from you with a couple 
of pictures of a beautiful girl in the swimming pool. Since you are not yet 18 months old, I highly suspect 
this was your mother’s doing!

Your mom has suggested that I write to you from time to time. It is a very thoughtful suggestion. Forgive 
me if I have told you why in previous notes, but she and I both think it would have been terrific if our 
grandparents had written down more of their thoughts and remembrances for our benefit.

I, for example, have only sketches of handwriting or other written material even from my father, and 
only a few impersonal words taken from work documents from my grandparents.

My mother, as you probably know, put down a lot of material. Much of it religious and wisdom 
literature that appealed to her. It does offer a direct insight into her personality and the kind of a person 
she was. I recommend you read it for that purpose.

My grandparents lived in a time when it was not easy for people of modest means to write. Writing 
materials were scarce and their educational levels were such that putting thoughts on paper was not 
easy for them. My dad, for example, was a terrific story teller. I hope you will read of some of them 
in other writings on which I am working. But although Dad consumed newspapers, he did not read 
much more than technical material. A truly smart and wise man, he simply did not feel comfortable 
putting the stories on paper. He expressed his feelings freely in person, but putting them on paper was 
awkward for him.I, on the other hand, have no such excuses. I have, as you probably have been told, 
been hammering away on typewriters and word processors all my life. Putting my thoughts on paper 
(computer?) is natural for me. It is awkward for me to put my thoughts down in longhand.

There are details of my relatives(and yours) in other material, so I will not get into that here except 
to tell you that I believe that we honor our ancestors and learn much about ourselves by getting 
acquainted with them and the times in which they lived and strived. Of such, of course, are the basics 
of history. I have found that knowing my immediate relatives in this way enables me to have a good 
feel for the really important figures in history.  An example: Having heard my father tell many funny 
stories – many of them with barnyard language and expletives – I can read of the anecdotes that Abraham 
Lincoln told and close my eyes and hear that great man dispense humor and wisdom that flowed out of 
a good mind and a loving heart.

Perhaps more than any other attribute I wish for you is that of empathy for others. It is difficult to 
truly define and difficult to acquire, else this would be a far better world than it is.

Diane Neal - Business Week Online Article
Published November 21, 1997

BUSINESS WEEK ONLINE November 21, 1997


Get your bar exam results online. The idea of electronic postings on the Web, as opposed to waiting for the mail, sounded great (see BW, 11/21/97, "Did You Pass the Bar? Check the Web for Results"), but the experience wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I agreed to stay up with my beau, who was waiting for his results, as moral support while he tried to access the site.  Little did I know that instead of soothing nerves the experience would wind up being an exercise in futility.

Nancy Carpenter, executive secretary for the New York State Board of Examiners, had predicted that online posting would ease anxiety because test-takers would have "immediate access" to their fate. However, as the board was preparing to release results for the first time on the Web just after midnight on Friday, Nov. 21, would-be lawyers started logging on an hour before anything was even posted. Uh oh.

12:00 a.m.: We sign on, and for the first 20 minutes we can't even access the Board of Examiners' home page. Once we finally do, it's a steady bout of continual page reloading to move on to the next link.

12:45: We get the link to the July, 1997, test results. The tension mounts, and I have to take over the navigation because he can't stand to look. I check, and we wait, and wait, and wait. The page Ioads only the first few names beginning with "A" before the connection times out - and we start all over.

1:30: I've had enough. Forget the modem, this is a job for the T1 line at work. We hop in a cab and rush to my offlce, convinced if we use the fast connection there, we'll get to the holy grail: the "N" page. How long can it take? Long enough. For three hours, we load and reload the same page over and over relentlessly, creeping through the alphabet little by little. Each time, new names are revealed, and the connection inevitably times out.

3:30: We finally reach L." I feel like this is one of the greater accomplishments of my life. I find that an awful lot of people have last names starting with L.

4:00: It doesn't look like we will make the Ns. Even at this hour, the pages loads painfully slow and my finger is cramping from clicking on "reload." I decide I've been tortured long enough. Besides, I do have a real job to show up for in a few hours.
Could the board have done anything to avoid this? For starters, an alphabetic menu bar might have been helpful to cut down the number of names downloaded on one page. As it was, some 1,500 names are on each of four "department" pages (6,029 were listed as having passed of the 8,520 who took the test). But the reality was server overload: Too many people wanted on at the same time. Although Carpenter says “all the alarms and bells went off," she also says the server never crashed and there weren't too many complaints. And of those, most were from people who didn't pass and thought perhaps their names were missing.

I went back to the board's Web site during the day on Friday, and on my first try got almost all of the Ms loaded before the connection timed out. What will my beau do now? We decided to quit trying - and wait for the mail.

By Diane Young in New York
Copyright 1997 McGraw-Hill Companies.  All rights reserved. Any use is subject to (1) terms and conditions of this service and (2) rules stated under "Read This First" in the "About Business Week" area.

The Neal Brothers

Left to Right:  Junior E. Neal (1924-2006), Charlie C. Neal (1920-1964), Virgil H. Neal (1917-1968), Fred R. Neal (1914-1977) and James H. Neal (1906-1968)

Tokyo Disneyland
May 2003

Had an encounter with a Sith Lord - Tokyo Disneyland

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming
August 2010

On our return from Yellowstone National Park in August 2010, we spent an afternoon at Devil's Tower National Monument in northeastern Wyoming.  John and I spent an hour or so hiking around the base of the tower and came upon a crowd of people who were watching two guys climb to the top of the tower.
Devil's Tower was the first declared U.S. National Monument, established in 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt.
1% of the Monument's 400,000 annual visitors climb Devil's Tower.

Additional photos of our visit to Devil's Tower National Monument can be found at:!i=1536860030&k=wsxfVFn

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

John Patrick Neal - Walt DisneyWorld
The Pirates League
October 2011

William Daggerskull

More pictures of Mr. Daggerskull can be found at:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U.S. Census 1850 - Neal Entry - Mountain Township, Montgomery County, Arkansas

1850 U.S. Census - John Neal (25), Mary [Oliver] (30), Elisa (13), Alfred (12), James (8), Matilda (4), John (3), Sally (1)

Monday, April 23, 2012

John Patrick Neal - 2006 Mosaic

Ken Neal Letter to Patrick Neal

July 20, 2011

Dear Patrick:

I didn’t forget your birthday but I suspect the card with the $250,000 check will arrive a bit after the 23rd.
Someday, when you are in old age, you will realize there is no one around who remembers when you were born and the circumstances surrounding that birth. 
My folks told me many times of my own birth, the details of which I will skip here, so I thought it might be nice to have this little missive describing your birth as only a doting father can do it.
On the afternoon of what turned out to be the big day, your mom and I drove to Bristow to pick up some tools that a friend was loaning to me to assist in building the house at the corner of Courtney and Mission. 
As we neared Bristow, she began to have slight pains but thought we could get back to Sapulpa for your birth. See how narrowly you missed being saddled with Bristow, Okla., on your birth certificate? Come to think of it, Bristow is easier to pronounce than Sapulpa.
At any rate, we checked her into the old Bartlett Memorial Hospital (now St. John) at about 6 p.m.
Your mother was in labor with you about six hours, about the same as with Kathy 13 years previously. Perhaps this is why you and Kathy are so star-crossed!
You were delivered by Dr. Robert White who coincidently was our neighbor when we first moved to Sapulpa in 1965.
We called Dr. White “giggles” because of his slightly manic, girlish laughter. He was a good doctor even if a rabid Republican. He saved my life with his quick diagnosis when I came down with spinal meningitis in 1972.
He came out of the delivery room to tell me I had a boy, born at exactly midnight. I quickly made you a full day younger by deciding on July 23. (I don’t remember you thanking me for that, by the way.)
Shortly, a nurse came down the hall with you in her arms.
I will never forget how you looked. Whereas most new born babies have their eyes closed, you were wide-eyed and looking around, as if to say, “who the hell brought me into this burg?”
I called my mother and father even though it was nearly 1 a.m. saying, “He’s here.” They were happy, if sleepy, to have a grandson to go with two teen granddaughters.
Sure enough, you greatly resemble your grandfather Neal in appearance and mannerisms, so much that it brings me to tears at times.
There’s a lot more to tell about you, but I will never forget the night of your birth. I was extremely proud of you and I have been extremely proud of you all your life.
I hope you read this someday when you are older than I am now and be comforted that although nobody remembers your birth that your old man never forgot it.

I love you, son.
U.S. Census 1910 - Radford Andrew Neal Entry - Barton Township, McIntosh County, Oklahoma

U.S. Census 1910 - Radford Andrew Neal Entry

Ken Neal Letter to Patrick James Neal

Patrick James Neal, April 9, 2012

April 8, 2012

       Tomorrow is the big day when you make your debut as my seventh grandchild and third grandson. As of this writing, I don’t know your given name, but I know you will be a Neal, so I am talking to you tonight about your Neal background.
       I hasten to say I could tell you of our lineage on my mother’s side and I am sure your mom has similar information on your antecedents on either side of her family.
       Yet the Neal surname is one you will carry all your life and so it’s fitting you know something about those old geezers who carried the name before you.
     Armed with some of my memories of what my father told me about them, your dad and I tracked the Neals in a little more detail
      We have some information about Neals for seven generations back of you. I expect your dad to preserve this note in some form so that you can read it as an adult some day. It won’t be long until I am 77 and my health is such that I fear I won’t be around to observe your development for many years.
      But I expect great things from you, not so much in accomplishments in the usual material pursuits but in your becoming a man of integrity, understanding and compassion.
      The earliest Neal we can find was John Henry Neal, who we think was born in central Arkansas around 1815. We can’t find his parents, so our search has ended there. Yet we know Neal is a Scottish name and we know that the Scot-Irish came over in several waves from the old country and so we are sure his folks were among those who moved down the Appalachian mountains into Arkansas.
      Maybe your Dad will have learned more by the time you read this.
      Anyhow, John Henry had a son he also called John Henry, born in the area of Logan County, Arkansas in about 1845.
    John Henry the second had four wives, three of them dying before him. I can’t find any of his other children, but he sired a fellow named Radford Andrew Neal by an Indian named Melissa Ussery on Magazine Mountain near Paris, Arkansas, in 1880. We think Melissa died giving birth to Radford, who, you might have guessed, is my grandfather.
     John Henry the second died in 1910 where he lived with his daughter, my grandfather’s half sister. We have remnants of a letter from her telling her lineage and relationship to Radford. My father knew her, referred to her as his Aunt Stella.
     Radford Andrew had nine children, including my father, born Rufus Leslie Neal, but later changed to Fred R. Neal. I, of course, am the offspring of Fred and your dad is my son.

     Enough of the lineage. I give you this background to express a couple of points. First, all of these people came from very humble situations. The census says the first John Henry could neither read nor write. John Henry the second could barely read. Radford had meager schooling but by all accounts was brilliant, if uneducated, man. Fred had an 8th grade education but was self-educated and very much a knowledgeable guy. I know, he was my father.
      I, have a bit better education, holding a college degree from the University of Tulsa. I was the first of my extended family to get a degree. Your dad is easily the best educated and the smartest Neal yet.

     The real reason for this treatise is to point out to you that each generation of Neals built on the previous generation. I know that each of these people wanted their sons to do better than they did. I inherited this desire from my father and I know he got it from his father.

     Therefore, I submit that each generation of Neals got better than their forebears and I expect the same of you and your brother John and your sister Catherine.

     Coincidentally, I am sure your mom, a great lady, feels the same as I do and that she benefited from her parents and background similarly.

    My regret is that I won’t be around to see you take the baton from your dad and exceed his great accomplishments in life.

     Your eyes are probably glazed over by now but I have a call in to your dad to learn of the birthing schedule tomorrow so I had to pontificate a bit. I am very pleased that there will be another Neal to carry on the name and to improve on it. Your ancestors were by no means great men, but those illiterate guys back there in Arkansas were never in jail, and one, John Henry the secondwas a young cavalry recruit in the Union army out of Arkansas. Get your dad to take you to visit his grave some time!

      I presume a bit here. I would have liked to have a letter from my grandfather and so hope you will some day like it. I have written quite a lot over the years and I am sure your dad will fill you in on those scribblings.

     We eagerly await your arrival!

Love, Grandpa Neal

P.S. It’s the morning of the  10thand you are more than we had hoped for. You are a husky, 8-pounder with all your appendages, ready to take on the world. We’re betting on you!
1940 U.S. Census - Neal Entry - Sand Springs, Oklahoma

1940 U.S. Census - Neal Entry, Sand Springs, Oklahoma

1940 U.S. Census - Bray Entry - Kellyville, Oklahoma

1940 U.S. Census - Bray Entry - Kellyville, Oklahoma

Star Theater, Sand Springs, Oklahoma
The Star Theater
by Ken Neal

       Do I remember the Star Theater? Do Baptists have buses?
There were two movie houses in Sand Springs, both downtown, both torn down now. The Star was on South Main south of Second Street, while the Harmony Theater was a block east of Main on Second Street. The admission for children under 12 was 10 cents. Each month each theater issued a calendar of the movies to be shown. Generally, single features were shown Mondays and Tuesdays with double features beginning on Wednesdays. By careful management, I could go to the show nearly every day, abetted by mom who gladly forked over 15 cents to get me out of her hair for a few hours.
I sometimes would have to see one of the double features twice but the serials they showed in those days changed so not all was repetition.
I remember those old theaters well. Like the old World newsroom, I can hardly believe how small they really were. There were tiny bathrooms for each sex and lines outside were frequently long. There was a lone popcorn machine in the “lobby,” but praise God, the movie houses were air-conditioned! I can still feel the rush of cold air going in and the blast furnace as we came out mid-afternoon.
As I got older I was allowed to go to the show at night. I would often ride my bicycle to the show because it was downhill all the way. I sometimes came out of the show after dark and would forget the bike. More than once, mom or dad would ask me where my bike was and I had to admit I left it at the show. Dad would take me downtown and sure enough, there was my bike all by itself in the rack.
We had a 1939 Chevrolet with running boards and large door handles. Dad would let me guide the bike with one hand and hold on the to car by the handle. We would drive home several blocks that way. Can you imagine letting a nine-year-old John hang on to the car like that? I was as good as you were on a bike at that age and Dad would simply tell mom, “hell, he can handle the damned thing and I won’t guide him into a car.”
Remember, these were the days of 26-inch bikes with big handlebars and balloon tires. I learned to ride one of these monsters when I was eight.
Memories: Here’s one: One of the folks’ livelong friends was a guy named Carroll Riddle. They met at the Cotton Mill and that friendship lasted 50 years. Dad and Carroll later worked at American Airlines and rode with each other for years. Anyway, Carroll came bursting to our house at 209 one night to breathlessly tell mom that her name had been drawn at the Star Theater to win $300. Carroll knew that winner would be called at the Harmony later so Mom hustled down, bought a ticket and was there when they called her name. You tell me the equivalent to $300 in 1944! Carroll wouldn’t take a dime, but got more than $300 out of telling the story for the next 40 years.
I was virtually reared in those theaters. I remember Dad taking me to see King Kong at the Harmony and both of them taking me to see Gone With The Wind at the Harmony when it first came out. The movie was made in 1939 and it probably hit Sand Springs in 1940. Mom roasted peanuts and took a jug of water because we had been warned that the movie was four hours’ long.
Alex and I agree that our morals were probably shaped more by Hollywood than the church. At the movies, we learned that bad guys always get it in the end, good guys always play fair and get the girl and that real men are peace loving until provoked. We suspected a lot about sex but it was very sedate and pristine on the screen.
Did I ever go to a movie there, indeed!
I often watch an old movie and remember that I saw the damned thing when it was first released. Makes me nostalgic ---and old!

Commander Mills Cotton Mill, Sand Springs, Oklahoma

The Commander Mills Cotton Mill
by Ken Neal

         Mom and Dad both worked at the cotton mill in Sand Springs, Oklahoma (aka, Commander Mills) which shut down sometime in the 1970s, I think, a casualty of cheap overseas labor.
These cotton mills were all over the South and Charles Page reportedly bought an entire mill in South Carolina, disassembled it and reassembled it in Sand Springs, probably in the early 1920s.

Some employees came to Sand Springs from South Carolina. I specifically remember a woman named Crowder that the folks thought highly of. Her son, Lyle Crowder, later became head of the Savings and Loan at Sand Springs.
In the jargon of the mill, a “doffer” was a job usually held by men because it was strenuous. Basically, a doffer took off spindles and replaced them. Fine cotton yarn was wound around a spool and the thread then fed into looms. A doffer would get a box full of spindles to replace the depleted ones. It required great manual dexterity and some guys, namely my uncle Jim, never got the hang of it.
Of course your Grandpa was one of the fastest doffers of his time and could replenish the “frames” in much less than the allotted time. Uncles Junior and Charley were great doffers, according to Dad, and finally were faster, he said. But dad laughed about beating Junior barely and then pretending to be loafing. They called it doffing a round.
Mom was a spinner for a time and by all accounts very good. It is interesting how much pride all these people took in being the best at very menial jobs.
To your question, mom was not a doffer because that was a job reserved for men. Women were spinners: although some were so good they would often help a struggling doffer. Apparently, it involved great skill to feed a thread into what they called travelers. I was never in the mill but I heard hundreds of conversations about the mill.
Working conditions were awful. The place was filled with cotton dust. There was no cooling in the summer. Men and women would come off a shift with their clothing soaked with sweat. One of my earliest memories of my dad was seeing him in this condition.
He worked the third shift for a time, which meant he went to work at 11 p.m. and got off at 7 a.m. We lived at 209 Cleveland and the mill was at the curve of Charles Page in southeast Sand Springs. He would walk home, stop at the neighborhood grocery, buy a quart of milk and a strawberry soda pop. He would drink the cream off, fill the milk bottle with the pop and drink it before going to bed.
I think you can imagine trying to sleep during the hot summer in Sand Springs. Mom spent most of her time trying to keep me quiet in a two-room shack so he could sleep.
Mom did not work during the time of the 1940 census when we lived at 317 Wilson. She went to work sometime after we moved to 209 Cleveland. I think it was during the war. I well remember being parked next door with Mrs. Parrish to wait until time to go to school. Mrs. Parrish would feed me breakfast and old Man Parrish would entertain me. They were our landlords and mom and dad thought highly of them.
Even my dog Brownie was their great friend. They had a little mongrel named Tiny that was several years old when we got Brownie. Brownie soon was much bigger than Tiny and they became fast friends. Yet old man Parrish liked to sic Tiny on Brownie to watch the fun. The little dog would manfully obey, only to be quickly put down by his big buddy, who must have wondered why the hell Tiny was sometimes so threatening. The big dog would get the little one down and simply hold him there with his paws. Mr. Parrish thought this was funny so he would put poor Tiny through this repeatedly.
Brownie roamed the town and when the Parrishes moved north several blocks, he quickly found them and would “visit” on a regular basis. Mrs. Parrish would answer his “knock” and feed him and Tiny. This continued until Brownie got killed at the age of 14. Brownie had several stops on his “route,” including my grandmother’s house and God knows whom else.
When I was in high school, mom worked at the mill inspecting bed sheets, which were the primary products the mill produced in Sand Springs.
Ken Neal Letter to Catherine Julia Neal
April 15, 2010

Dear Catherine Julia:

I am sitting here thinking about my brand new granddaughter, whose name is Catherine Julia Neal, I am told by her proud parents.
This is your first day home. My wife and your adoptive grandmother, Kara Gae, saw you when you were just hours old and she pronounced you a really beautiful baby. I am sure your dad already has taken a lot photographs proving that.

C.J. (I bet we call you that a lot), you most likely are my last grandchild since your father is my baby boy and at the age of 40 not likely to have any more children. My daughters, your aunts, are far older than that, even.
So you have five cousins on your dad’s side of the family and a couple more on your Grandpa and Grandma Young’ s side. All this minutae comes to mind as I think about you and the truly fabulous life you will lead. You probably will live well into the 22nd century and given the likely advances in medicine perhaps well into your second century of life.
Your Grandpa Neal was a reporter and editor all of his life and so I guess that is why I feel compelled to write you a letter tos ort of welcome you into my family and also to give you a little peak into old Grandpa’s world. Perhaps that is because the odds are you will not have any memory of me. But hey, I hope that will not be the case and so I am taking all the precautions I know to hang around awhile.
C.J., one of my grandfathers, Radford Andrew Neal, died when I was a baby and I have no independent memory of him. My own father, however, told me many stories and anecdotes about Radford, so I grew up “remembering” him. I hope your dad does that for me and that he doesn’t tell you the “whole truth” about
C.J., the only real accomplishments of my life were my three children, your aunts Kathy and Julie and your dad. A friend once told me that if you rear three successful kids you have contributed as much as any one can to this world. So I claim success.

I regret that I will not be around to see you grow into the beautiful, accomplished woman I know you will be. How do I know that? Well, for openers, as Gae said, you are already a beauty. Second, you have a wonderful mother who already has John Patrick on the road to accomplishment. I know she will do
that for you. And, I modestly admit that your Dad is quite a guy and he will do his part for you.
I guess the reason for this little letter is a longing not to be forgotten by those you love most. It is one of the wonderful things about being a parent or a grandparent. I loved you from the day I heard you were on the way. Sure enough, you turned out to be a beautiful baby. That’s kind of symbolic for life; first
you develop in your mother’s womb, then you develop a lot longer in the womb of life.
Patrick and I have done a little research on the Neal side of your family and I have gotten to know these folks through dusty records. I happened onto a pitiful old hand-written letter from a rather remote relative that I am sure your dad will show you some time. In it, this largely illiterate lady told of her father and
my grandfather. Somehow, this tenuous connection with them is precious to me. I have only one or two brief notes from my own father. I have often thought how nice it would have been to have
a letter from him to me.
So, I have written letters to all my kids and now to you. I hope that we can someday sit down and read this together and laugh at the remarks of an old man who believes the only immortality
is the people we leave behind.
Hey, I haven’t seen you in person yet, but thanks to the camera, your parents and technology, I can prove you are a gorgeous girl!

Grandpa Neal